November 7, 2016

Sabbath and the Bottom Line

A mandatory day off is good for business.

Jared Thurmon

At first glance, it doesn’t add up. How could someone who works six days a week be more successful than someone who works all seven?

If your worldview is one in which evolution and the Cambrian explosion form its foundation, then naturally life’s motto is focused on survival of the fittest, or fastest, or actually just being the hardest-working dude or woman in the room. If you believe that life gets better the harder and the more we work “at it,” then you would have a “work more, get more” stance.

But if your worldview begins with nothing and ends with a planet flourishing with life and highly complex ecosystems six days later, then you have a different foundation on which to build. You then have a faith component in your psyche that leads you to believe something can be created from nothing. And perhaps it would be more fair to say that something can be created from nothing more than an idea. After all, with the words “Let there be . . .” the rest is history.

Standing Out

Scripture tells us that each of us have been given a “measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).1 So within all of us is the ability to hope and believe in things we cannot see, nor do we have any evidence of.

Seventh-day Adventists are a unique group, truly “a peculiar people.” Thus some of us shy away from standing out in this world. I personally don’t understand that. No business succeeds just by going with the flow and doing what others have done or are doing. Take a page from a book in my library called
The Deviant’s Advantage, which points to zigging when others zag.

So how does one’s worldview relate to their business acumen and success? How can a person get ahead in this world by working less?

The Faith and Risk Connection

What is it about Seventh-day Adventists that could be advantageous in the world of business? It’s pretty simple: it’s our ability to step out in faith believing something better is coming, and the idea that our friend Jesus is the greatest risk taker. Consider this statement from Ellen White that profoundly addresses the notion of God as the ultimate risk taker. “Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Savior could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal.”2

Jesus was not sure what His tomorrow would look like, but He ventured out anyway based on His past experience and faith in His Father God. With that example,Adventists can be the most calculated risk takers in the world. Take a moment to contemplate the risk that the King of heaven took in creating and redeeming humanity.

“There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

We have so much potential to make a larger impact in the world if we embrace the business world as a mission field. My favorite quote has led me to realize this is true: “Religion and business are not two separate things; they are one.”3

By celebrating the Sabbath and all that God has intended it to be, we are making a bold statement. We are saying that we are not the sole holders of our destiny. We are saying that we hold strong to a worldview that proclaims God did something beyond the scope of any business plan by creating the world from nothing in just a few days. By holding to that, we can be the biggest dreamers with the most hope and faith in the room. And here’s how.

We celebrate the Sabbath each week as a reminder of two things. First: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (Eze. 20:12). That means that each week the Sabbath is a day during which I cease from the work I’m doing to maintain this life and remember that God has not, nor ever will, cease His work in my life. It is a day that gives me confidence that He who began a good work in my life will one day bring it to completion (see Phil. 1:6).

Second, Sabbath is also a weekly reminder of our origin, identity, and destiny. Understanding and enjoying the Sabbath can drive business decisions. Without this weekly reminder, one may easily forget who owns the world and all that is in it. If I forget that, then I may begin to treat my employees as if I were God and they were my subjects. I might naturally begin to manage in a way that aligns more with being my brother’s owner than my brother’s keeper.

Seventh-day Adventists have the potential to be the best businessmen and businesswomen in the world because we, perhaps more than anyone else, understand the very purpose for which God raised up this movement. And I daresay our inspired name is key.

Seventh-day: to remind the world of the Creator and the sustainable principles that He entrusted to Adam and Eve in the garden 6,000 years ago. Adventist: to inspire us with hope that though we may see resources dwindling or selfishness increasing, we have a hope that one day this earth will be re-created to enjoy the destiny for which it was created from nothing.

Risking, dreaming, and doing: it’s in our very DNA. So “Press On” is our battle cry. Ponder these hopeful words: “There is a fearfulness to venture out and to run risks in this great work, fearing that the expenditure of means would not bring returns. What if means are used, and yet we cannot see that souls have been saved by it? What if there is a dead loss of a portion of our means? Better work and keep at work than to do nothing. You know not which shall prosper, this or that.”4

  1. Bible texts in this article are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
  2. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 753.
  3. Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 349.
  4. Ellen G. White, Welfare Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 266.

Jared Thurmon is director of marketing and strategic partnerships for Adventist Review Ministries.